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Chronic Fatigue Message Board

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This is my first post and I apologize for its length, but I wanted to be thorough in describing my symptoms, how they first started, and how my condition has progressed/regressed since then.

Five years ago I developed a flu-like malaise the onset of which lasted for 7 days. Although it felt like I was coming down with the flu, the illness wouldn't proceed beyond the onset phase. It was accompanied by irregularity, a problem I had dealt with in the past but had brought completely under control through the daily consumption of whole wheat bread with bran at each meal (Bran for Life from Food for Life).

Coincidentally, two people at work had come down with the flu or something like it at the time, so I assumed I had caught something from one of them. One was a salesman who had just returned from a business trip. The other was the person who sat next to him.

But I also had contact the week before with a person from a moving company who was helping me move my things, but for some reason needed to step outside frequently to quite forcefully clear his lungs.

Anyway, after going to the doctor and having all of my blood/urine tests come back normal, I decided to pop some aspirin, like 5-6 tablets, something I wouldn't have normally done except out of desperation and within 15 minutes my feeling of malaise lifted.

Then over the next 5-7 days I proceeded to go through what I thought were the normal stages of recovering from a bad case of the flu--runny nose, sneezing and sniffling, 3-4 days of coughing up phlegm from my lungs--all things I typically associated with recovering from the flu. My regularity also returned to normal...or so I thought.

But then the following week, after all of my flu symptoms had disappeared and I thought I was back to normal, I started experiencing brain fog. I'd wake up after a full night's sleep and still feel tired, but it was a 'mental' kind of fatigue and this went on for several weeks. I couldn't concentrate properly. I also started noticing that whenever I came into close contact with others at work that my initial flu-like malaise would come back within a short time and then last for a day or two; the irregularity also returned. But when the flu symptoms went away, so did the irregularity.

Then after about a month I began to experience a strange kind of physical fatigue whenever I worked out at the gym. At the time I was playing basketball every Sunday for 3-4 hours and I always had plenty of energy. Now, when I played, it was if I had an extra weight tied to my back which made physical exertion more difficult. I played through the fatigue though and eventually it diminished and became less frequent.

The brain fog gradually went away, too, but then something new appeared: heartburn. I had never experienced heartburn before, so this seemed very odd. Nothing had changed in my diet--I had been eating the same basic diet for the previous 15 years--and it got worse and worse. I started drinking apple cider vinegar to relieve the discomfort, and it worked, but I would need to take a few sips every day to get rid of it. Also, the irregularity came back whenever my flu-symptoms returned and they seemed to be triggered whenever I had close contact with others at work (speaking distance 2-4 feet). I began to think it was something about the people at work that was making me sick.

These issues persisted through the end of the year. Then in January 2009, my body seemed to mount some sort of fight against the virus or whatever was causing my symptoms and for an entire month, I was symptom free. No flu-like feeling of malaise. No heartburn. No fatigue. Nothing. I noticed a sore spot in the back of my throat. Not my entire throat, just a spot, like maybe where a germ or virus could have entered my body. I remember this spot of soreness was there when I first got sick and was similar to whenever I caught the seasonal flu--a point of entry for a virus (or whatever).

But that point of soreness eventually started to move back down (apparently) my throat and as it did all my other symptoms returned--the malaise feeling off and on, the heartburn on a daily basis, and the physical fatigue whenever I worked out, but I fought through the fatigue and it more or less went away.

For the next 3-4 years, the symptoms gradually subsided, including the heartburn. I still got heartburn and drank apple cider vinegar to deal with it, but it seemed to happen less frequently and with less severity. Same with the feeling of malaise. In fact, the malaise feeling had almost gone away completely until I returned to school starting in February 2012. The first night of class I got sick from someone else who came to class sick. The flu-like feeling lasted a day or two, but it came back the following week when I went to class. Funny thing was the symptoms didn't present themselves until the NEXT day when I was home alone and hadn't had any contact with anyone for at least 12 hours. The tip off that I was sick was I couldn't have a full bowel movement the next morning.

I was going to school four nights a week, and it seemed I would be sick the following day almost every time. The feeling might last into late morning or early afternoon and then start to lift. Taking aspirin seemed to help alleviate the feeling faster. Luckily, the class was small--4 people--and I didn't have to sit close to anyone. One time though--at a special event attended by all students in school that night--the feeling of malaise hit me so strong that it almost staggered me from its intensity. I couldn't believe it. It came on within minutes of entering the room and stayed with me for the next 45 minutes, long after I had returned to class.

Five years later all of my original symptoms are coming back. The fatigue comes back with the feeling of malaise. The heartburn, though mild, alternates with the feeling of malaise. And now I need almost an entire day to recover from the malaise and regain normal regularity.

It's become more or less a pattern: whenever I have close contact with others my original symptoms are triggered, but usually not until the next day, and I have to spend time away from people or else I don't get better.

CFS? EBV? Gluten allergy?

As previously mentioned, I had problems with irregularity but had brought it completely under control by eating whole wheat bread with bran with each meal, and I had been eating whole wheat bread for the 15 years prior to my getting sick. The irregularity only returned when I became sick.

Taking aspirin lessens the feeling malaise and seems to speed-up my recovery, but it still takes me a day to fully recover. I had all sorts of tests (blood/urine) conducted in 2008 and again in 2009 and all came back normal, that is, within normal ranges. Maybe I need more testing, I don't know.

I had an MRI screening in January 2010 for a kidney stone and the doctor found nothing unusual in the results except for the kidney stone. He noted mild diverticulosis and small fatty deposits around my liver. I've been eating a high fiber diet since 1994, so I don't think the diverticulosis is the reason for my irregularity returning since I had it completely under control before getting sick.

I'm at my wit's end. I'd swear my body thinks it's fighting some sort of viral infection.

It came on like the flu and I recovered from it like it was the flu, the weird part being that the onset of it lasted almost seven days (!).

Seven days of feeling like I was coming down with the flu, and only when I took 5 aspirin did I start to recover. Normally when I get the flu the onset lasts for no more than a day or two, like for most people. Then I go through what--for me--are the normal phases of recovery that I described earlier. In fact, I've had the seasonal flu several times since this happened, and the initial period of malaise lasted only a day or two at the most.



One last thing: I forgot to mention (somehow) that I put on a lot of weight in the six months prior to getting sick. Almost 60 lbs. in fact.

I did have a weakness for breakfast burritos and ate quite a few of them, but I never ate an entire one at any meal. I'd cut 4 slices of the burrito and eat two slices of the burrito with two slices of bread, so i was basically eating 1/3-1/2 burrito at a meal, but apparently this caused me to put on all of this weight. From Nov 2007 to May 2008 I put on about 45 lbs. Then after going to the doctor, I put on an additional 20 lbs., so that in toto my weight increased from around 185 to 254 by July 2008.

Some people with thyroid issues (hypothyroidism) experience weight gain, irregularity and other issues similar to what I've experienced. But I had a TSH test in 2008-09 and both times it came back within results in the normal range.

I've since lost all of that weight and currently weigh around 180 lbs.

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